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I said, not exactly sure what had just transpired. Okay, futurist, bye. If our childhood included trauma, neglect, and pain, then boundaries have been obliterated from the beginning. Having to teach what we've not been taught can feel like walking on sand: unsure of our footing, scared of making mistakes and reopening old wounds. How, then, do we navigate parenting in a way that keeps our children safe and also empowers them to have firm, healthy personal boundaries of their own? How do we create respect and understanding of boundaries, and not resentment? How do we honor and work on our boundaries at the same time that we guide our children to acknowledge and work on theirs? Empower Their No Everything we teach our children has legs. How we respond to them as children sets the tone for how confident and empowered they feel in the future. Which, if we think about it too much, will send us into a tailspin. It's being mindful of the messages we're sending out and how they might translate in five, ten, or twenty years' time. Beneath it all, I knew my family wasn't like many others, and I knew from the outside no one could have known how different we really were. But these hunches were not ones I felt I could share. You see, in our home we had rules. Rules that were never spoken about, but commandments you followed nonetheless. I was never told I wasn't allowed to cry, but I was mocked when I did. I was never told I was not permitted to talk about my feelings, but I was shamed when I asked questions, withdrew, laughed, danced, or did not smile when expected to. I was never told I wasn't loved, but I was told I was bad. I was never told I was unworthy, but I was labeled selfish for wanting, for desiring, and for dreaming about having.

I was never told I was ugly, but I was never told I was pretty, either. I was told to tell the truth. She waved with both her hands. I'll text you with some times next week. Then she hung up. What an interesting young woman, I thought. If You Want to Be a Lumberjack, You Need to Move to the Forest Hey, futurist, Rox said the following week, her now-familiar face filling my screen. There was something different to her voice. It was at once less guarded and less confident. Hello, Rox, I said. How was your week? For example, if we constantly proclaim, Do as you're told, that becomes problematic when our children grow up to be adults and continue to do as they're told--when doing so could bring some pretty disastrous repercussions to the door. The same can be said when we ignore the awkwardness of a child when it comes to hugging or kissing a relative goodbye. If we urge them, despite their verbal and nonverbal protests, to Go on, give Aunt Edna a kiss goodbye, it tells them that even if they don't want to let someone into their personal space, they perhaps ought to do so if the other person wants them to and is relentless in their pursuit of it. That's downright dangerous. Intimacy should not be forced, nor should anyone be made to feel guilty for not wanting to let someone into their personal space. We can respect and empower their no by letting them know it's OK not to hug or kiss anyone they don't want to--it's an act of affection that absolutely should be given freely, as they see fit. Intimacy should not be forced, nor should anyone be made to feel guilty for not wanting to let someone into their personal space. As parents we can help enforce the nos in these situations;

We can also check in on our knee-jerk reactions when it comes to our children responding in the way we want them to. They're allowed to have boundaries with their parents--it's healthy. But instead I always felt we lived a lie. Pink Elephants My mother's mother was an alcoholic. Grandma lived directly around the corner from us. The rear of her house faced our back yard. My mother's younger brother Peter lived a few blocks away. He was an alcoholic and a compulsive gambler. My mother's twin brother John never really had a home. He too was an alcoholic and a compulsive gambler. My mother's father, whom I never met, died while my mother was pregnant with me. Crappy, she answered. How many dual-use live-work buildings can a girl model? I don't know, how many? I laughed, trying to put her at ease. So did you have a chance to think about-- Yeah, yeah, yeah, she interrupted, waving her hands in front of the camera. I want to work at Pixar. You know, the animation studio that made Toy Story and WALL-E and just about every other animated movie worth watching.

That's great, I replied. I know Pixar. Breeding a generation of obedient and compliant children wipes out their natural appetite for learning. It's healthy to question, to challenge the status quo, to want to understand why. There's something else that could be said between It's time for bed and Because I said so. Offer explanations, reasonings, and dialogues, rather than a my-word-is-final approach. Encourage the questioning in life of all things that feel unjust and wrong. Even if, to our perspective, they don't seem unfair. It's not about disempowering our nos, either--it's about freeing up communication so that everyone gets clear on the why, explaining that there are limits and why these limits exist. Otherwise, there's no real opportunity to explore the reasoning behind boundaries. By the time we're older and those opportunities present themselves, if we've been molded to be obedient and compliant, then that's the behavior that takes decades to unpick. If we've been molded to be obedient and compliant, then that's the behavior that takes decades to unpick. He was also an alcoholic, and according to Uncle John, he liked to beat up women, too. I would not have known that if it were not for Uncle John. My mother tended to glorify the man who found money to buy himself tailored suits, while his own children dressed in tattered hand-me- downs supplied by empathetic neighbors. My father's father was an alcoholic. It is rumored that he was also physically abusive to women. According to raw stories told by my father, my grandfather was an explosive drunk who got kicks out of torturing his children when he got loaded. In the clouds of inebriation, he'd find humor in hammering a nail into a piece of wood he'd place on his son's head. He was a volatile man whose rage-filled drunken episodes could not be trusted.

My father's natural mother, Pauline, I never met. She committed suicide when my father was only four. I don't think I know anyone there, but have you looked to see if they're hiring? I was going to continue but stopped as Rox leaned in close to the camera, one eyeball filling the screen. Are you okay? I'm watching you, futurist, she said, leaning back in her chair again. You didn't laugh, she said. I thought you would laugh. A professor at school smirked. And Andy, the girl I sit next to at the office, she practically busted a gut she laughed so hard. But you didn't. Why would I laugh? There will be times when your no is a no even with all of the explanations, reasonings, and dialogues: No, you can't bite your sibling, No, you can't hit the dog over the head with that, No, you can't see Mommy, she's taking a nap. Empowering the no of our children goes hand in hand with teaching them to respect the no of others. It takes cojones sometimes, as parents, to keep a no a no. Children have tenacity in spades, and it can be wearing. They also, from a very early age, learn how to use emotion to sway things their way. Keeping the reasoned, calm, and steadfast no as it is after you've had every textarticle Oooooh and I hate you and been through the crocodile tears helps teach our children to respect the boundaries of others. And consistency is key here, too. Consistency is key.